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Manufacturer Gets Go Ahead For Western Mass. Plant Expansion


    An automobile parts manufacturer has received the final local approvals to expand a facility in western Massachusetts that will result in new jobs.

     U.S. Tsubaki received final approvals by a unanimous vote of the Chicopee Planning Board to construct a 100,000 square foot addition to its manufacturing plant in the Westover Air Industrial Park.  The $12 million expansion project will add a new production line that will require 35 new workers.

    State and local tax incentives totaling more than $750,000 have been approved for the project.

    Construction is expected to begin before the end of the year.

    The company makes timing drive systems for the top automobile manufacturers.  The directors of the parent company, Tsubakimoto Chain of Osaka, Japan, made the decision to expand in Chicopee rather than at plants in Tennessee and Mexico.

     Dan Butterfield, president of U.S. Tsubaki, said the tax incentives were one factor in the decision to expand in Chicopee rather than go to where labor costs would be cheaper.

     " Total cost is really more at what we look at," said Butterfield. " That involves things like having the resources, the employees with the proper skill levels, and knowing we can get the expansion done on time."

     350 people currently work for U.S. Tsubaki, making it one of the largest private employers in the region.  Butterfield said the company has seen its business grow constantly since it arrived in Chicopee about a dozen years ago.

    Mayor Richard Kos announced in April that the City Council had approved a property tax abatement worth almost $250,000 over 10 years to entice the company to expand in Chicopee.

    "There is a scoreboard and it has Chicopee one, Tennessee zero, and Mexico zero as far as U.S. Tsubaki is concerned," Kos said at the time of the announcement.

     The state’s Economic Assistance Coordinating Council approved $525,000 in tax credits for the project.

     There is a clawback provision to the tax incentives if U.S. Tsubaki fails to create the new jobs it has promised, according to Chicopee’s economic development director Mike Vedovelli.

     " Typically cities will only go out five years ( for a tax abatement).  We went ten because we believe in this project. We wanted to make a statement that Chicopee should be the preferred location for this," said Vedovelli.

     In addition to the Chicopee manufacturing facility, U.S. Tsubaki has a warehouse in Westfield that employs 18 people.


Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.
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